On ESSA and Party Crashing

I can’t help but think of good ol’ Tom Vander Ark tonight.

Back in 2010, Vander Ark wrote the following in a blog post on why he believed, at the time, that the reauthorization of ESEA should hold off just a few more years:

 “The world will be different a year from now: 20 states will be well into Race to the Top implementation, hundreds of i3 grantees will be hard at work, the Common Core will have been adopted and new assessments will be in development. The Department has the biggest boldest grant program in history. They should let it reshape the landscape before attempting to adjust the law that will frame the next decade. “

Sure enough, as Vander Ark has been busy investing in charter, online, and digital learning companies, giving presentations on how to unbundle the billion-dollar education market, and advising the Foundation for Excellence in Education and ALEC on policy plays to bring his dreams to fruition, the landscape has indeed shifted.

Just in time for today’s passage of ESSA, most state departments of education are now thoroughly under the thumb of corporations and related billionaire-controlled foundations.

 “It will unleash a flood of excitement and innovation and student achievement that we haven’t seen in a long time,” said Senator Lamar Alexander said in today’s article in the New York Times on the passage of ESSA. “But it will come community by community, state by state, rather than through Washington, D.C.”

If by “flood of excitement,” Senator Alexander means investors slapping each other high five, well – I imagine he’s right.

But I know I’m not jumping for joy.

I’ll tell you what though. For whatever reason, I don’t feel defeated. I know this was a big win for Team Profiteers and Team Deception, but I have this feeling in my gut that this fight is only just getting going.

Maybe it’s just the holiday spirit messing with my emotions.

Either way, as Vander Ark and his cronies no doubt celebrate their victory this evening, I’d like to take a moment to cheer the real heroes of the day: Team Truth and Team Don’t-Mess-With-Our-Kids.

You know who you are.

Now go crash every ESSA party you can find.









Author: Emily Talmage

My name is Emily Talmage and I teach fourth grade at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to teaching in Lewiston, I have also taught special education and general education in New York City, including one year at a “high-performing” charter school in Brooklyn. I also have two master’s degrees; one in Urban Education from Mercy College, and another in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. I have also worked as a research analyst and assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia and Oldham Innovative Research in Portland.

One thought on “On ESSA and Party Crashing”

  1. To add insult to injury, we have (at least here in Maine), DOE members informing the State Board of Education of all the benefits to passing this bill. But wait…then we discover they haven’t even read the bill. The take away is simple: unsupported talking points rule the day! This should fill anyone with a sense of confidence and security; the federal and state government truly give a rip about substantive information. Facts? Details? Consequences? Why should we be bogged down with such irrelevant and insignificant information?


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